Public sector marketers and salespeople play an important role – educating government IT leaders and senior decision-makers on the exciting new technologies and innovations that are transforming how organizations operate and fundamentally redefining what is possible.
But, how can these public sector salespeople and marketers navigate the complicated government acquisition process? How do they cut through the noise and clutter of the crowded government IT marketplace to ensure that truly innovative solutions get into the hands of government employees and warfighters?
The Government Technology Insider recently sat down with government marketing wunderkind, Tom Mahoney of TD SYNNEX Public Sector, to help answer some of those questions.
In our four-part podcast series, The Public Sector Primer, we take deep dives into how marketers and salespeople can solve the government acquisition and sales puzzle. In our first episode, we discussed how companies can identify business opportunities and agency requirements. In our second episode, we asked Tom to elaborate on how IT solution providers can build effective marketing campaigns for their solutions, and how to measure the impact of those campaigns.
To listen to the second part of The Public Sector Primer, click PLAY below. Or, read a transcript of the conversation below.
TRANSCRIPT: The Public Sector Primer Episode Two – Creating Effective Campaigns
Ryan Schradin: Hello public sector marketing and sales professionals and welcome to the second episode in our special four-episode podcast series that we’re calling The Public Sector Primer – brought to you by Government Technology Insider (GTI).
I’m Ryan Schradin, a frequent contributor to GTI. And I’m your host for today. And, if you joined us for Episode One, you already know what we’re doing here. But, if not, let me enlighten you.
GTI has joined forces with Tom Mahoney, the VP of Marketing at TD SYNNEX Public Sector to provide an instructional opportunity for companies looking to market and sell solutions to the federal government and military. And this is something Tom’s uniquely qualified to do. He’s been running successful campaigns – marketing and selling technology solutions to the federal government and military for the better part of two decades.
When this podcast series is over, we hope that you’ll walk away with the skills, knowledge, and abilities you’ll need to do business with the government and the military. We kicked the series off by discussing ways that you can identify sales opportunities with government agencies and military organizations by leveraging business insights and intelligence generated from targeted marketing campaigns. Today, we’re going to drill down deeper into those campaigns and explore what it takes to make them a success.
Tom, thanks again for joining us and sharing your knowledge.
Tom Mahoney: Ryan, thanks for having me back. I’m excited for part two of this series.
Ryan Schradin: Yeah, let’s do it. Part one was fun, and I think this one’s just going to get even better. So, let’s jump in!
In our last episode, you talked about how we can leverage data, business intelligence, and insights from marketing campaigns and use them to identify sales opportunities. But for us to generate insights that we can learn from, our marketing campaigns need to be successful and get the attention of government and military decision-makers. So, in your opinion, what’s the best way to do that?
Tom Mahoney: That’s a great question. What we endorse at TD SYNNEX Public Sector in our marketing department is something we call the “Arcs and Pillar Strategy.”
Arcs actually represent the overarching theme that’s tied to your campaign. It’s your through-line that kind of connects everything you’re doing. And the pillars represent the actual tactics of your campaign.
So, an example of a pillar could be a roadshow series or event series, a content series that includes podcasts, white papers, and eBooks, or social media campaigns. Those could all be examples of pillars. But what unites them – what brings them together – is that overarching theme. That “Arcs and Pillar Strategy” is what we use, that helps us plan the content, organize our program around something that has a degree of cohesion to it, and allows us to have a consistent message to the marketplace.
Ryan Schradin: So, we’ve got arcs and pillars, the arcs are themes. Now, when I hear themes, I start thinking about prom night, like “A night under the stars,” or, “Under the sea.” Give us an example of a themed campaign.
Tom Mahoney: Well, yeah, that’s a great example. And so – sticking with that prom theme for a moment – think about “A night under the stars.” As you walk into the prom, you know, you would expect to see decorations, you would expect to see maybe a photo booth, you would expect to see things that tie into that “A night under the stars” theme, or that “Under the sea” theme, where there’s some sort of cohesion or similar identity to everything.
It’s the exact same thing in a marketing campaign – marketing is really about repetition. Continuing to expose your targeted customer, your targeted end user, to the same concept over and over again. But finding a way for it to break through the noise of a really loud and crowded marketplace so you don’t just get lost in the background noise of other people’s campaigns.
The theme is what’s going to bring it all together, give it an identity, and give it a message that is consistent across all the tactics you use. And so, an example of a theme – “Under the Sea” may not be for the U.S. government, but “Under CMMC” might be a theme. Zero Trust for cybersecurity could be a theme. The hybrid workplace is a unifying theme for many, many government agencies, state and local agencies, and higher education institutions because they are having to try to solve that problem.
If you lean into that as a theme, you’re getting a little bit closer to that target customer’s pain point. And you’re going to get more of their attention if you’re speaking to their pain.
Ryan Schradin: So, the arcs are the themes that kind of go over the whole thing – the theme for the entire campaign. And now, you’re going to take that theme and you’re going to reflect that in every single one of these pillars, these different tactics that you’re doing.
So, what would some of those different tactics be? Can you give us some examples of some of the different tactics that would be employed? And, you know, and maybe some examples of some of the different mediums that you would use to distribute that message – that theme – to the government and the military?
Tom Mahoney: Yeah, that’s a great question. So, if your theme is – we’ll stick with Zero Trust for cybersecurity as our example here. If that’s your overarching theme, if you have a product or solution that satisfies the Zero Trust requirements, or addresses some of the Zero Trust mandates that we’ve heard from the Biden Administration, you’re going to be looking at ways that you can align your product and solution to that theme, and try to reach through the noise of a crowded marketplace so that our target customer understands who you are and what you do.
So, how are you going to do that? What are your pillars? What are those tactics? Well, you know, if you have a new product launch or a new enhancement to an existing product suite, you may start with a press release. And that press release will probably point to Zero Trust as both a requirement and a pain point for what your solution helps to address. But the press release itself isn’t going to do all the lifting for you. So, you probably want to follow up with a social media campaign that takes that core message tied to that theme and replicait and and amplifies it across all the social media channels where you have an active follower base. So, press releases giving way to social media.
The next piece you’d probably want to include is a direct-targeted email blast to your install base or your potential prospect list that builds upon the messages that are in the press release but tailored a little bit more to your target user and base. So, the messaging speaks to their pain points a little bit more.
And so now you’ve started to build out your communication stream to your target market. Let’s make it a little bit more actionable.
As you’re looking at your event calendar or the industry trade shows or the associations where you have IT days or luncheons, you probably want to bring your field team in, give them talking points, FAQs, and have them be on script with the theme. “Here’s what we do for Zero Trust. Here’s what’s unique and different about us – the features and benefits, and how it helps address some of the requirements of a Zero Trust posture.”
Now you want that team out in the marketplace, walking the floor at trade shows, shaking hands at these IT days and luncheons. They should be on script when they’re getting the opportunity to answer the question, “So, what do you do?” And they’re being consistent with the theme. And as you deploy each of these tactics, one after the next, working in harmony together, you’re actually creating an echo chamber where your message just reverberates. And you can continue to extend this in thought leadership articles, blogs, podcasts like this one, eBooks, and more to continue to reinforce your message.
And that softens the ground when it comes time for the hard job of selling. The target customers are aware of you, are thinking about you, and have a positive association between the theme, their pain point, and your product or solution.
Ryan Schradin: So, if anyone listening has a new product coming up, hopefully, they’re taking notes, because I think that’s a really good roadmap to follow that you gave away for free. So thanks for that.
Tom Mahoney: Absolutely.
Ryan Schradin: So you laid out a lot of different tactics there, you talked about a product launch – you do a press release, you amplify that through social media, do all these other things at trade shows. When this is all said and done, we have to measure that, right?
We have to gauge to see if this theme resonated with people. We have to gauge to see if these tactics were effective. So, kind of a two-part question: how do government marketers and government salespeople gauge and measure if a themed campaign was successful? And, in your opinion, what are some good measurable metrics that you should hold a campaign against?
Tom Mahoney: Well, you know, it really depends on the vendor and how deep your marketing budget is. If you have funds set aside for custom research, you can get really powerful data to see if you’re being successful. And there are a number of companies out there that can help measure things known as brand equity or brand recall where you can actually do the study before your campaign goes live.
That’s really expensive, but you can get huge insights into that. And, if you deploy a survey like that at the beginning of a campaign, and at the end of the campaign, you can scientifically measure how much of a lift you have created. Are you building more awareness and a positive association of your brand to the problem solution or pain point of your target customer?
But let’s be realistic, not that many companies have enough time, resources, or funding available to do that sort of targeted measurement before and after a campaign. So, what’s something that’s relatively easy you can do? Well, the good news is measuring digital traffic is really affordable, and very easy. It almost comes out of the box with Google Analytics today.
As we’re building our campaigns, one of the first things that we do is actually sit down and we map out and wireframe a product page or a campaign page that will be hosted on our website. That page will speak to our theme, our features and benefits, the pain points of our target customer, and how you can work with us or how you can get engaged with us to help solve that problem. And, you know, if that’s something where you’re iterating on an existing product page, you can measure before and after traffic. Are you getting more traffic? Is it staying longer on the page? What is the bounce rate? That can be your scorecard for measuring your campaign.
If it’s a brand new page, something that you just brought into existence, here’s a metric I want to give you. And I actually learned it from you, Ryan. How quickly can you get to 10,000 unique visitors? That is a key benchmark. How quickly can you get to 10,000 unique visitors after you launch your campaign? And we try to do that for any new campaign. We try to do that within the first 30 to 90 days, depending on how big the target market is for our solution. Then, how quickly can you reach that number? And then is the traffic sustaining there after that, because all your efforts go into that initial launch, and you can get a lot of traffic? But are they coming back? Are they coming back to get more information?
So that’s two ways you can feel to study and do a before and after snapshot of your brand equity and awareness in the marketplace for your target customer. That takes time, money, and resources but it’s a great strategy. The second way is to build a product page or a campaign page related to what your offer is. And just take a snapshot of either the before or after traffic or how quickly you can build and sustain that traffic. There are lots of other ways to measure engagement but those are two that I would offer to any marketing manager looking to build a new campaign.
Ryan Schradin: I appreciate it, and I’m sure our listeners appreciate that there are multiple price points there because I doubt highly anyone that’s listening to us right now has an unlimited marketing budget and can throw that kind of money at all that market research. So, it’s good that there’s a premium option there, but then also kind of a discount option, as well. And it’s also good that I taught someone something. That doesn’t happen all that often.
Give me some examples of what’s going on at TD SYNNEX Public Sector. What have you guys done? And tell our listeners a little bit about some of the theme campaigns that you guys have run.
Tom Mahoney: I’ll share one of my favorite examples. So, in our role as a public sector distributor serving the U.S. public sector market, we help enable resellers or value-added resellers in the market that are helping to drive technology adoption for the U.S. public sector. Because many vendors work through a channel partner in order to reach the end user at a U.S. government agency or department, and they need as much support as possible to help create lift for those solutions and to drive more qualified leads, or to even understand how to best engage with the public sector market.
So, one of the areas where we have a deep level of expertise, and have a pretty robust vendor line card, is helping the U.S. public sector consume technology solutions on cloud-based platforms. We help Google AWS, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, and many other cloud-based solutions to drive their solutions to the U.S. public sector. One of the things we put together is a website called www.cloudnavigator.com. And it’s a pretty simple, straightforward website. It’s really about understanding where you are on your journey to help drive cloud adoption in the U.S. public sector. And you may or may not know, but you’d probably like a scorecard.
If you come to that website, you can go through a quick online survey. We ask you a series of questions. And, as a result of that, we give you back a scorecard that lets you know where you are on the flight path for driving cloud adoption in the U.S. public sector. And then, more than that, we provide instructions on what it would take to get you to the next step is to reach an AWS Certified level, for example.
So that’s just one example of a theme campaign. The pain point is how do you help drive cloud technology and cloud adoption in the U.S. public sector. You’ve got to start with knowing where you are in terms of your readiness. And so that’s a theme, and all of our communications that are tied to that cloud navigator platform, which includes social media, email, videos, and more all speak to that pain point and help to pull the reseller network into that website so that they can get a score and understand how they can drive new cloud technology to the U.S. public sector.
Ryan Schradin: I’m familiar with Cloud Navigator. I thought that was an excellent campaign. So, I’m glad that you use that one as an example.
Tom Mahoney: And that’s still up there for people who want to go check that out at www.cloudnavigator.com.
Ryan Schradin: Very cool. Excellent. Hey, thank you so much. It’s been another excellent and enlightening conversation. I want to thank you for joining us and providing so many great examples and educational information for the salespeople and marketers that are joining us.
Tom Mahoney: Thank you for having me again, Ryan.
Ryan Schradin: To all our listeners, the public sector marketers, and salespeople who joined us today to learn how to sell and market to the government military – we appreciate you guys listening. If you’re looking for more educational resources on this topic, TD SYNNEX has a white paper entitled, “30 lessons for doing IT business in the public sector.”
We’ll go ahead and drop a link to that and the article that this podcast is embedded in – so be on the lookout for that. Also, be sure to check back on the Government Technology Insider for the next two episodes. This is episode two of a four-part series, so check back for the next two episodes in The Public Sector Primer podcast series. In our next episode, we’re going to be discussing engaging and building relationships with prospects.